tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera December 21, 2014 1:00am-2:01am EST
he was 18, and unarmed, when gunned down by a white police officer in ferguson missouri. an autopsy showed he was hit at least 6 times, twice in the head. ...his body lay on the street for over 4 hours. his death unleashed an anger that had been building for decades at a system the community here says is stacked against them from birth. ...and raised questions about policing and race in america. >> everything that's happening in ferguson is everything that's wrong with police-community relationships, particularly when it comes to black men.
>> one of the reasons that black young men are angry about this because they all see themselves as a michael brown. it could have been them. >> that anger would continue for months to come, but while the legal process ran its course a community held back ...watching and waitingfor justice to be done. fault lines was there during that time in this special extended episode we look deeper into why so many here feel such injustice from those sworn to protect them.
>> sit down for micheal brown sit down for micheal brown sit down for micheal brown... when fault lines first arrived in ferguson just days after the shooting, we were shocked at what we found. a small crowd of peaceful demonstrators, faced with a police force that looked ready for war. this is an extraordinary display of force to be honest. these guys are armed to the teeth sir, do you know why they're bringing this equipment in? you all need to move back some ok? >> do you know why they're bringing in armored vehicles? >> we're aren't from here... >> [crowd chanting] mike can't go home! mike can't go home! >> we are not out here to start trouble, please don't harass us.... >> it wasn't hard to understand why the police response would be viewed as inflammatory. >> you don't think that's provocative? they provoking it. they asking them to move out of the street... do you see any violence occurring right now?
it's peaceful, they don't have to be here. >> has it been like this the last few days? >> it's been like this for years, for years. >> this kind of policing? >> yes. it's been like this for years, from birth. >> [crowd chanting] hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot!.... >> they make us inhuman. >> what do you mean? >> they break us down, try to strip us of every right as a human. we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty but we
always guilty until proven innocent. >> that night quickly spiraled into what would be a turning point of the ferguson story. >> it seems like they're throwing flash bombs now. there's explosions going off. we're not quite sure what the police are firing but there's gas coming down too. we're going to get out of here! >> in a matter of hours, the streets went from peaceful protest and calls for justice, to scenes out of a conflict zone. as the military style vehicles advanced, rubber bullets were fired. anyone on the streets - including media - was viewed as a target. these scenes would flash across news networks that night... >> [crowd chanting] what do we want? justice! when do we want it? now! what do we want? justice! when do we want it? now! >> ...by the next morning,
the nation was paying attention. after a call from president obama, missouri's governor showed up in ferguson - putting the state highway patrol in charge of the response, relieving local police of their command. >> governor, how would you explain the nature of the presence that we saw on the streets yesterday? i mean, there were armored personnel carriers, about 100 police in military-style uniform, high- powered rifles being trained on the crowd, who is in charge of making those decisions and are they going to be held to account for mistakes that you clearly think have been made? >> that was yesterday, tonight's tonight. tomorrow's tomorrow. >> but in a move that caused renewed anger on the street, ferguson's police chief released this video the very next morning. it showed brown stealing from a grocery store...his grieving family was incensed. the motives and timing of releasing the video were immediately questioned.
>> did he know that he was a suspect in the case or did he not know? >> i'm going to read you a statement here. michael brown's family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piecemeal information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son. what's your response to that? >> we have given you everything that we have now and everything that we can give you. so that's... from our police department, we have everything we've got. there's nothing else i can give you. what about the timing of the relese of this video??? and by that night, news of the video's release had spread. it was the police response that made national news - but the wider, underlying story we began to hear was about an anger that had started long before mike brown. >> this city keeps the black people down. ferguson, i get harassed on the daily. it's f*áked up laws, it's fucked up s*át, it's harassment that go on every f*áking day including myself.
including these black males. when you feel like a target...when you feel like a f*áking target how the f*ák you gonna react? and thats some real s*át! >> catch more "faultlines" episodes on demand or at aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> al jazeera america presents >> somebody's telling lies... >> it looks nothing like him... >> pan am flight 103 explodes december 21st, 1988 was the right man convicted? >> so many people, at such a high level, had the stake in al-megrahi's guilt >> the most definitive look at this shocking crime >> the major difficulty for the prosecution that there was no evidence >> al jazeera america presents lockerbie part one: the pan am bomber
no one else will ask. >> why did so many of these people choose to risk their lives? >> antonio mora, award winning and hard hitting. >> people are dying because of this policy. >> there's no status quo, just the bottom line. >> what is the administration doing behind the scenes? >> real perspective. "consider this". monday through thursday, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> the shooting of mike brown sparked something in ferguson. why did it happen here? on the surface, the city looks like any quiet american suburb. but in the southeast corner of the city limits there are densely populated apartment complexes. this is where michael brown lived. and this street is where he was walking the day he was killed. what exactly happened the day he encountered darren wilson here, remains unknown,
but what's clear is that they were two people from two very different worlds... this area has a high concentration of poverty and residents say it's heavily patrolled by police. it's predominantly african american ...and it's typical of the way many places in the st louis area are divided along racial and economic lines. a divide that young men like mike brown say means almost constant interaction with police. >> you were hit with bullet? >> no a rubber bullet. look >> what night? >> look >> you got hit with those? >> yeah! >> which day was that? >> it was the first day... >> the first day was monday.... >> solomon, ronald and miller are all from northern st louis county and have been out protesting the
michael brown shooting. but it wasn't just about michael brown, they told us. they were angry at about something more profound than that. >> they just harass, they just treat you like you don't belong. >> who do? the police? >> yea, the police? >> we've got two strikes: black and male. so all we got to do is a miss a blinker and we're stressed out in the middle of the street. >> that's what people say? two strikes? >> you make a face at a cop, strike 3 you're out. you're going to jail for something. >> what these young men were talking about is more than just a "perception" of unfair treatment from police. >> they have no connection to them culturally, other than as police officers patrolling the area and enforcing the law. >> adolphus pruitt is head of the local naacp chapter which filed a federal civil rights complaint in late 2013 against the st louis county police for disproportionately targeting blacks. >> a young black kid can live in
an urban area and when he leaves his house and he's going for a walk, or he's going to work, he's going to school, he's subjected to be stopped by the police, he's subjected to be questioned, he's subjected to have to show identification, he's subjected to be run through the system to see if he has any outstanding warrants. and then after all of that, they can say: ok, you can go ahead. and in some cases it happens for no reason at all. >> even if they avoid the police, these young men have other odds stacked against them: the unemployment rate for african americans in this county is three times that of whites. among black males aged 16 to 24, the unemployment rate here in the last few years has reached nearly 50 percent. >> we comin' back to losing hope. what do we have to bank on after school? i went to college and got my medical assistant. i wanted to be in the medical field. they found out i had a felony,
guess what happened? i spent $20 thousand dollars for nothing. i get my hands dirty workin' on cars now. >> how does that make you feel? >> like a bag of s*át... what i'm supposed to do? >> does it make you angry? >> hell yeah! >> st louis is probably one of the most segregated communities in the country, both racially and socio-economically. as african-americans move in, whites move out. and what happens also with that is that some of the highest paying jobs, some of the best of the living conditions go with them. >> so you have somebody who can't find a job, you have somebody who's been marginalized in society and then
3 or 4 times a week you get hassled by the police. i mean comm'on how much can a young person stand who doesn't necessarily have the tools to deal with some of the stuff. and sometime it comes up pretty raw. that has to do with some systemic, racial issue that need to be resolved. >> what people here told us is that police shootings like michael brown's are the most violent examples of a system of law enforcement that unfairly targets black people. african americans in the st. louis area are disproportionately stopped and searched by police on a regular basis. many of those ticketed come from low-income backgrounds...they can end up in court for minor
offenses...leading to a spiral of debt that is sometimes difficult to escape. >> brake lights are $100 driving while suspended is $200 the insurance is $100 you got $100 on each of the failure to appear... $10 on the seatbelt... see the clerk at the window... >> it is almost always the case that the judge, and the prosecutor, and the police are white, and the defendants are black. almost always - not every time - almost always. >> thomas harvey is a local st louis lawyer. he says some municipalities get more than 30 percent of their revenue from fines that target mainly lower-income residents. >> it looks loke you have a payment due this evening... is that correct?
>> yes sir...that is correct... >> they are facing daily choices regarding their poverty, that it makes sense not to pay to get the car registered, because you're trying to keep your light bill on. and if that's your choice, it's always going to make sense to pay your light bill, feed your kids, pay your rent, before you go get the vehicle registered. i would call it a daily, low-level harassment by your government. so psychologically, i think it's a devastating effect. >> i gotta strategize before i come out of the house every day. i gotta figure out what not to do to get the police's attention, especially living in spanish lake i get stopped just walking to pick up my kids form school. so i gotta figure out which route should i take with less police.
>> solomon himself has become stuck in a cycle of tickets and fines that he can't get out of. >> my kids still gotta get to the doctor's, i still got doctor's appointments. still gotta go to the grocery store so yeah, i drive illegal. every day. >> illegal how, what do you mean? >> no license. because ferguson wants $3200 to get it back from a 15-year-old speeding ticket. how am i supposed to pay that back when won't nobody hire me? i can't pay that back. >> for solomon as for many in this community, mike brown was a tragic outcome a symbol of an entire system that's unfairly tilted against black communities. >> in a white neighborhood, if a cop catches a kid stealing in a store he's probably gonna take them to mom and dad. that's it. take em to mom and dad's house.
we don't get those chances. we get shot down... it's different. the laws are different. this world is not for us. america anyways, nothing for us... >> catch more "faultlines" episodes on demand or at aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> al jazeera america morning news >> good morning and welcome! to al jazeera america >> real stories... real reporting... real news... a deeper look... >> a much better forecast for today >> with an international edge >> why is this so important and how close is this deal? >> from our award winning news teams across america and beyond >> we begin with breaking news coming out of the west bank... >> news that matters... al jazeera america morning news every morning 7 eastern only on al jazeera america
the department of justice and the fbi also launched federal investigations into the shooting and the practices of ferguson's police department. but while officials promised the community that justice would be done, we began hearing stories about other police shootings in the area. shootings were the case never went before a grand jury and where the officers involved had been exonerated, shootings that had barely even made the news. >> who wrote that? probably one of cary's friends. >> in april 2013, st louis police tried pull over 25-year old cary ball jr for a traffic violation. cary, who was carrying an illegal weapon, fled the scene first in his car and then by foot. two officers chased him in pursuit. >> and at that point, gun in his hand and police say he was pointing at them? >> the police say yeah.
allegedly...that's what they say >> and the witnesses have a diff story. >> the witnesses say gun was on the ground and cary had his hands up. >> that he'd dropped the gun and he'd turned around and his hands were up in the air. >> it wasn't how the police want to try to explain it... ...points the gun... bang, bang, bang, bang, bang it wasn't a bang bang thing, it was just stop.... threw the gun...hands up, then he was shot. >> cary never fired a shot, and the lawyers told us none of the 10 witnesses questioned say cary pointed a gun at the officers. cary was struck at least 21 times. the family's lawyers say ballistic evidence suggests the police kept shoting as they stood over him. >> see that spot there? >> yeah... >> there it is right there... >> yeah so just come on back >> this one as well right? >> yep >> that's that one here >> you need that one down there >> this is from where the officer's were pointing - >> straight down... >> so that went through cary's body
the st louis police department cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. an fbi review agreed with their findings. we requested comment from the police regarding cary's case but received no response. in the wake of mike brown, carlos and his family are hoping for an independent investigation. the police could say you could still pose a threat while you're on the ground. doesn't matter if you're down. you can still kill a police officer. >> ok so he's down. you've got 4 shots in him now. is he still a threat shoot him 4, 5 more times, that's 8 is he still a threat? shoot him 4, 5 more times after that, that's 12. is he still a threat? so now, you're deliberating now. now you've got time to think what you're doing. after 4, shots yea caught up in the moment. but the continuous onslaught of the shots mean your thinking now. you've got time to think. you've got time to deliberate.
you've got time to stand down. >> this picture right here was from cary's last bithday... that was at his 25th birthday. and this was down at the party that they had that evenig >> who's this? >> that's my mom, >> which one's cary? >> that's my little brother kevin and that's cary. >> this is him? >> cary was an honors student at a local community college - one year from graduation. >> were you close? >> very close... he was my best friend. we're just a year apart. we almost did like everything together. >> there was more to cary than what, you know the media wants to say, just because he had, can't judge people just because he had a record.
on the news they showed that one day, and then boom it went away. 25-year-old male pointed a gun at an officer, shot and killed. now sports. it's like anything that black males do is punishable by death. put em down. we are not treated fairly i don't believe by the police period. >> for over 3 months, fault lines has requested to speak to the st louis city police, the st louis county police, and the ferguson police departments. they all declined. but police in another local municipality called hazelwood did agree to take us out on patrol. this is nick lawrence - he's
been a police officer for 13 years. he says in a situation where police feel in danger there is little time to deliberate. >> it's the adrenaline bump. it's the tunnel vision. it's the loss of fine motor skills. >> we asked nick what many in the community have been questioning since mike brown's death - the readiness of police to use deadly force. he tells us their training actually calls for it. >> we're trained to shoot center mass to stop the threat. so if you are a... >> center mass? >> center mass. the center mass of the body. so basically the chest, does that make sense? when the threat is stopped, then you can go back to preserving life. but if your life is in danger, you're not expected to worry about the person whose trying to put your life in danger. you're worried about his well-being until he's not, he's no longer a threat.
>> suddenly nick spots something down the street it's a traffic stop. it was the sort of minor violation we'd been hearing people complaining about. >> he hadn't registered his vehicle so we'll see what that is.... you got a truck plate on your charger here. this is nice by the way. what's up, you haven't had a chance to get it registered yet or did you just get it? >> yeah... i just got it... >> the driver also happened to be black. in 2013, over half of hazelwood's stops
were african american drivers, while they only make up only about 30% of the city's population. in the end, nick didn't give the man a ticket - it wasn't clear whether or not our presence had anything to do with it. >> get your plates fixed ok? >> yes sir. i appreciate yall all a lot. >> nick said he never saw if the driver was black and that race plays no role in who he pulls over. when we pointed to data about racial disparities in traffic stops, nick disagreed that blacks are specifically targeted. >> is the reason minorities are getting arrested at a higher rate because of their socioeconomic status, is it because of lack of the school systems that they're in. there's got to be another reason other than just the cops are bad.
that the statistics are like you say, they're off. i mean i understand that, i'm just saying what is the reason behind that? is it, and to just basically say because all the cops are racist. we're all smarter than that, aren't we? hazelwood police department hasn't had any fatal officer-related shootings...but last summer, two hazelwood officers stopped a man named antonio johnson by the side of the road. johnson was arrested for driving while intoxicated after parking his vehicle. according to the police report, he was quote "aggressive and resisting arrest".
>> at this point antonio must have... >> he's handcuffed his hands pn cuffs right? the police report says antonio was trying to quote "step out of" his handcuffs. he was tazed a total of 13 times and hit repeatedly with a baton. the police had to call medical responders or ems to the scene. >> his condition was so poor, in fact, that the ems officers said to the arresting officers, "can you please remove his hand cuffs, we can't treat him if you've got these handcuffs on him." they said, "no, we're not going to take them off." so they asked again, "please take the handcuffs off." again they said, "no." they said they had never had a situation before where the police officers refused to
remove the handcuffs. he said that the condition he was in, he wasn't aggressive, he wasn't fighting. two days later, antonio died in the hospital. when we asked hazelwood police about the incident, they told us there was an investigation by st louis county police and the case was referred to the fbi. the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing. antonio's mother and family are suing the hazelwood police department. >> do you think that he might have been in a situation where he was resisting arrest? >> no. >> what makes you say that? >> because i know antonio. antonio would sit there and he would let them police talk all the stuff they wanted to talk.
and how can he be resisting when he got handcuffs on? while we were at antonio's mother's house - several family members showed up who'd been in the hospital room when he died. >> this man should have seen his kids grow up, their kids come... he should be playing with his grandkids right now and with his wife. not where he's at right now today it was no reason for that to happen. none whatsoever. and i'll never get the image out of my eyes of him laying in the hospital bed. there's nothing you can do there is no amount of money you can give to this family to bring that man back. nothing. and it hurts. >> the mike brown case just open the case for all of the other brother's cases just got swept under the rug. like my cousin's case >> yeah, he's not mike brown, he's not our family but i hurt for that family too. cause we understand their pain. to me, it's just not color. i would'nt wish this on another black man, white man
chinese nobody.... nobody deserves this. we're all humans, color shouldn't matter. >> and everybody seems to know somebody that has encountered this kind of thing. everyone you talk to around here [everyone agrees] it's not just isolated cases... >> right eveyone knows somebody that's been killed by the police. >> evey odd year since 2009 i done lost a family member from the police... in 2009, my uncle was killed on the south side by the police. in 2011, my big brother was killed by the police. in 2013, my father was killed by the police. like every family member i've lost has been because of the police. and no officer has been punished for it. no officer. >> right >> and like with the situation with mike brown, a lot of other people got into that. these officers they kill people
and still be out here. as an officer, they know they can kill somebody else and they can get away with it without doing nothing about it. >> catch more "faultlines" episodes on demand or at aljazeera.com/faultlines. when experts talk about putting when experts talk about putting on and taking of a suit like the on and taking of a suit like the one i'm about to display here, one i'm about to display here, they talk about they talk about "ritualizing the process" "ritualizing the process" because you have to make sure that everything is perfect. because you have to make sure that everything is perfect. imagine that i've just come from treating an ebola affixed imagine that i've just come from treating an ebola affixed patient and have gotten blood or patient and have gotten blood or other body material onto me. other body material onto me. so now i'm going to get out of so now i'm going to get out of this suit. this suit. i'm going to show you the i'm going to show you the critical mistake that can get so critical mistake that can get so many aid workers into trouble. many aid workers into trouble.
they're exhausted, they've seen a lot of blood, they're panicked and they want to get this off. they're exhausted, they've seen a lot of blood, they're panicked they pull it off. and they want to get this off. they pull it off. whoa! whoa! the fresh air hits their face the fresh air hits their face and their first instinct and their first instinct is to wipe their brow is to wipe their brow because they're so sweaty. because they're so sweaty. this glove is contaminated and this glove is contaminated and that's where you're getting that's where you're getting contaminated material into mucus contaminated material into mucus membranes, it drips into the membranes, it drips into the eyes, makes the mistake, that's eyes, makes the mistake, that's the moment. the moment. the thing to consider here is that for every person that you the thing to consider here is that for every person that you want in one of these suits out want in one of these suits out treating people, you're going to treating people, you're going to need a second person also need a second person also trained in the use of the suit trained in the use of the suit to get that first person out of it. to get that first person that buddy system is essential, out of it. that buddy system is essential, doctors say, in creating the doctors say, in creating the kind of ritualized process kind of ritualized process that's going to keep me from that's going to keep me from being infected. being infected.
>> after spending several weeks in this part of missouri we were starting to realize how common it was for people in the black community to have lost family members to police. in fact, it happened while we were out filming one night. we've just heard there's been another officer-involved shooting just this evening in a neighborhood very close to here....so we're heading down to the scene right now. we've heard there's a crowd gathering and that a teenager has been shot and killed by the police. by the time we arrived, the st louis police department had already been tweeting out their version of events. the official police story - released only hours after the shooting - said the victim was not just carrying a gun, but he'd fired three times at an officer who shot him down in self-defense. >> do you know what happened? >> story's still sketchy but
they're saying 16 shots...a kid, shot 16 times >> by the police? it's definitely an officer-involved shooting? >> i'm hearing it was an off-duty officer, a security guard >> do you know who it was? >> it was a police officer! they already took him out >> they arrested him? >> no! they didn't arrest the cop, they put him in the back seat and he left! >> from what people were telling us, an off-duty officer had stopped local resident vonderrit myers - nicknamed "droop" by his friends - after he came out of this store. >>a high school student! >> it was unclear why he was stopped - they insisted he wasn't doing anything wrong. >> they don't have no reason why they pursued the young man, they can't say nothing was stolen...he came from this store and walked there. now they sitting over there whispering to each other making up stories. they're gonna save the police officer. but that's alright cos st louis is gonna burn...the f*ák...down. darren wilson, you hear me? all y'all... all y'all... >> we just can't take it no more!
>> with police officers standing guard, detectives began to leave with evidence. ...but anger amongst the crowd was growing. >> we are human beings! >> i am droop i am micheal brown hands up...don't shoot! hands up...don't shoot! hands up...don't shoot! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! fight back! suddenly, they advanced, telling police to leave the scene. you can see the anger of the crowd, they're pushing the police back...some of the police vehicles have already left and people are really riled up here - the tensions are extremely high the visceral anger of those first few days after the shooting of michael brown seemed close at hand once again. outraged at police killing of another young black teenager, some in the crowd lost control.
it was a night where the gulf of trust between these officers and the community they police - so badly exposed by the killing of michael brown - came crashing back into focus once again. >> who do you protect? who do you serve? who do you protect? who do you serve? who do you protect? who do you serve? who do you protect? who do you serve? >> the police department and the city have promised a thorough review of the case - but the community here says they are tired of waiting for answers and little is changing. >> shoot mother f*ácker! shoot now! shoot now! shoot now mother f*ácker! you bad... you bad... you bad.. oh you wanna cry cause we in yo face talkin' that real s*át f*ák you! >> how do you feel as a man? no respect... no accountabilty who do you protect? who do you serve? >> who do you protect? who do you protect?
who do you protect? >> in the african american community even the young kids see the police, oh here come the police. white people don't say that. oh, i'm glad to see the officer. black people in many instances are not. and white people'll say, that's because they've done something wrong. no, it's not. it's because of the culture and the climate that people have grown up in that caused them to fear that. [crowd chanting] >> who's streets? our streets! who's streets? our streets! who's streets? our streets! who's streets? our streets!.... >> most people can understand it intellectually but there's a visceral nature to the interaction that really kind of goes down to the core of who we are as people that's hard to understand unless you've experienced it. [crowd chanting] hands up! don't shoot! hands up! don't shoot! we are! - mike brown! we are! - mike brown! we are! - mike brown! >> and it's a phenomenon that extends well outside of st louis.
in mid-october, thousands descended on ferguson to bring attention to the number of african americans being killed by police on a national level. in the last 6 months, there has been eric garner, kaijeme powell, john crawford, akai gurley, tamir rice, tanesha anderson, darrien hunt, and ezell ford. that's just this year - many more names fill the mouths of protestors here on the streets: sean bell...oscar grant...rekia boyd...aiyana stanley jones. [crowd chanting] you can't stop the revolution! you can't stop the revolution! you can't stop the revolution! >> this is the new civil rights movement that's happening right now. and ground zero is the policing of black communities. there's no question about it. people are drawing connections that we drew 50 years ago in the civil rights
movement that this is a societal problem. this is not just a police department problem. and it's not just a county problem and it's not just a sheriff problem. this is a societal problem because it happens all over the country. it happens constantly. a recent propublica investigation found that a black male teenager is 21 times more likely to be shot by police than a white male teenager. >> why does everyone who look like me gotta be criminal? there's no honor in that badge! >> you don't have to be a criminal to be black. but if you are black, a lot of people think you are more likely to be a criminal. and if you live in a community full of black people, very often the police department would say, "i'm not gonna treat this as a community full of individuals,
some of them are good, some of them are bad, but they set up their policies to think of black communities as sort of a hot bed of hiding for criminals. there is no comprehensive federal data on police officer shootings in the us, let alone the race of the victim. according to the fbi, there are about 400 justifiable police homicides every year - but this number is drastically low. only a fraction of some 18 thousand police agencies report their data because there is no requirement to do so. but even if data did exist on a national level, it would still be rare for a police officer to be charged in
even the most controversial cases. >> they don't just have a presumption of innocence, they have a super presumption of innocence. and they have that because i think it's hard for people to believe that you know the men and women we hired to protect us would then go out and harm us. laurie levenson was federal prosecutor for 8 years. she says laws in place actually give police officers significant latitude. >> the other thing is, we allow them to carry weapons, we have the sliding scale of use of force so there is a lot of deference to when they decide to use the weapons. they are in dangerous situations that are fast evolving. we are loathe to second guess them and the legal standards are very high for convicting a police officer. so even if you charge them, it's not so easy to convict them. >> but there's also another major factor on if and how police are held to account: prosecutors.
>> there is an inherent problem with local prosecutors going after quote one of their own, one of their local law enforcement. cause these are the people they work with all the time. and in the back of their mind their thinking two things, one i know these guys by and large they are good guys. second, if i go after them too aggressively, what's going to happen to my cases in the future? >> so there's a very close relationship in a day to day thing then what happens if the police department person...the police officer becomes the defendant? the question that we have to ask is, is that same relationship going to impede a fair and honest assessment of whether that police officer did something wrong? so leaving apart the platitudes of the politicians that say oh well it's completely fair and impartial, we know that a lot of times, it is not fair and impartial. >> we wanted to see how that relationship might play out in
the michael brown case. in the past 10 years, records show there were 49 officer-related shootings in st louis county - 14 of them fatal. among all of those cases, not one led to an officer indictment. the man who holds that power - bob mcculloch. st louis county's prosecutor for almost 24 years. he comes from a family of police, his father killed in the line of duty by a black man. all factors that many say make mcculloch too close to those in uniform. one of the most controversial cases under his time has been what became known as the jack-in-the-box case. in 2000, two unarmed black men earl murray and ronald beasley were fatally shot at least 20 times during a drug bust. the officers who opened fire
said they felt threatened when the men's car moved towards them - mcculloch took the case to a grand jury. >> he refused for months to release key details such as the names of the police officers who did the shooting and the number of shots fired. he called the two dead men "bums", he refused all but the most cursory contact with the african american community which was understandably upset by the police shooting of two african americans >> michael sorkin is a reporter for the st. louis post dispatch newspaper. after the grand jury decided not to indict the officers sorkin managed to get hold of secret testimony of witnesses in the case. >> we found out for the first time what actually happened in the grand jury.
>> according to sorkin, mcculloch maintained to this day that all of the detectives at the jack-in-the-box that night had testified the car moved towards the officers. >> what you heard on those tapes were different? >> only three of the thirteen detectives testified that the car had gone forward. 2 of the 3 were the shooters. as sorkin reported, mcculloch failed to question the discrepancy in the officers stories. and never amitted misrepresenting the truth. >> there's a general distrust, rightly or wrongly, of this prosecutor and that has not changed since then and it continues to this day. >> catch more "faultlines" episodes on demand or at aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> television icon norman lear >> we hoped we were delivering real characters... >> creator of "all in the family"
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behind closed doors, the latest grand jury called by bob mcculloch - the one for the killing of michael brown - dragged on for months... demands for the prosecutor to recuse himself had been dismissed. there were 70 hours of witness testimony, hundreds of pages of notes. former prosecutors were bewildered by the proceedings. >> that's not how we do it. and you know that's not how we do it. any other time it would not be happening like this. if he really wanted to indict darren wilson, he could get him indicted. it's just a probable cause hearing, it's not a trial. >> jerryl christmas has dealt with numerous grand juries in the st louis area. he says the threshold is so low that an overwhelming majority of
grand jury cases end with an indictment. >> and the key factor is this: ask all around this country how often do prosecutors bring the defendant in to testify? i don't care what the defendant got to say...we the prosecutor's office! we know that we have a case, that's the reason why we are going for an indictment so we can move forward to trial. we don't need the defense version at this point >> darren wilson testified for four hours in september - the final straw, christmas said, for anyone with concerns over the impartiality of the prosecutor. >> i'm saying that you are too close to the police to think that you are going to aggressively prosecute them. and especially in a situation like this where its such a close call, i would be more comfortable with just an independent party who doesn't have all of these affiliations,
>> late november, and all of st louis was on edge waiting for the grand jury's decision. anonymous leaks from the proceedings began to emerge - showing darren wilson's version of events increasingly corroborated by witness testimony. >> indict...convict... send that killer cop to jail! >> the community grew apprehensive - missouri's governor had preemptively declared a state of emergency, activating hundreds of national guard. finally on november 24th word came that the grand jury had finally reached a decision - mcculloch himself would deliver the announcement. we'd made repeated attempts to speak to mcculloch about the process...now, we were about to get the entire picture all at once.
the news conference is taking place inside this building and we've been told its going to start imminently and the grand jury will be giving its decision. media access was extremely limited - one camera and only a dozen or so reporters were allowed in. outside, tension filled the air. a divided community held its breath. protestors who'd been mobilizing for months wished for a step towards justice... ...supporters of darren wilson hoped for an end to months of uncertainty. this was the moment that would be etched into history... >> ...arriving at their
collective decision. after their exhaustive review of the evidence, the gand jury deliberated over two days, making their final decision. they determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer wilson in returned a no true bill on each of the five indictments... >> no indictment. no indictment. >> no indictment. >> the whole state should have egg on their face! ....bob mcculloch should have egg on his face, the whole jury should have egg on their face,
it's an absolute insult the whole state should have egg on their face! >> hands up - don't shoot! hands up - don't shoot! hands up - don't shoot! >> just a week later a new york grand jury would return with the same decision for the officer who killed eric garner in a chokehold. no indictments, no wrongdoing... the question of darren wilson's fate had been answered but a much more fundamental question remained what changes? what does everything that's happened in ferguson mean for preventing another mike brown?
for these communities, at least for now, the message that was sent was one of little hope. >> catch more "faultlines" episodes on demand or at aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> a crisis on the border... >> thery're vulnarable... these are refugees... >> migrent kids flooding into the u.s. >> we're gonna go and see josue who's just been deported... >> why are so many children fleeing? >> your children will be a part of my group or killed... >> fault lines, al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be arrested... >> ground breaking... they're firing canisters of gas at us... emmy award winning investigative series... fault lines
no refuge: children at the border only on al jazeera america the polls are open. tunisians vote for their first free will he i lexed president in an historic run-off election. also on the program. the revolution will go on. cuba's president says a better relationship with the u.s. won't change the island's communist system. president obama says he unconditionally condemns the murder of two new york